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Spagnola's project, Health Hero Match, seeks to help with medical staffing during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo from Alexa Spagnola)

Rising Engineering senior Alexa Spagnola developed a website to match unemployed healthcare workers with organizations and hospitals in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Spagnola won first place at a global hackathon in April for her project "Health Hero Match," a double-sided web platform designed to help with medical staffing during the outbreak. Spagnola said her team is currently refining the product in advance of officially launching the website later this summer.

The site, also known as H2M, is configured similarly to apps such as Uber and Postmates, as it uses real-time modeling and artificial intelligence, Spagnola said.  

The platform helps temporarily-relocated healthcare workers find housing and food options in their new communities, and also notifies hospitals of future peak projections that might leave them short-staffed.  

Spagnola said the H2M team will begin beta-testing the product this summer, which could include launching it to a hospital currently in a peak zone for the virus, such as Penn Medicine, and monitoring performance.

Since the website's effectiveness is limited by the number of medical workers and hospitals that utilize the platform, Spagnola said she and her team will spend the summer publicizing H2M to increase awareness.

Spagnola's team participated in New York University Abu Dhabi's 2020 International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World, where they were tasked with creating tech solutions to help communities and industries respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Philly Voice reported. The team consisted of seven students from universities around the world.

Spagnola was nominated by Electrical and Systems Engineering Professor Rahul Mangharam to participate in the hackathon. Spagnola asked Mangharam to nominate her after taking his ESE 350 Embedded Systems class during her sophomore year. 

“She has been doing many hackathons and has had much success,” Mangharam said.

The annual hackathon, which normally takes place in Abu Dhabi, was moved online this year due to coronavirus concerns. 

As an electrical engineering major, Spagnola said she is accustomed to working hands-on with hardware, which she found impossible to do in a virtual setting. This led her to take on a project management role to provide strategic guidance for her team members. 

Spagnola said she has high hopes for H2M, and is glad she is able to use her engineering skills to generate positive change for this crisis and future pandemics.  

“Pandemics will increase, and having this in place will be beneficial for the future,” Spagnola said.

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